Kantian imperatives in public goods networks

Sambit Mohanty, K. S.Mallikarjuna Rao, Jaideep Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To maximize aggregate effort, a principal allocates agents to a given graph of roles where each agent's reward is exogenously fixed and increases in the aggregate effort of their immediate neighbourhood. Effort is costly for individual agents, thus forming a local public goods game. Agents can be selfish or stubborn (following Kantian imperatives that maximize agent welfare). For regular graphs, we provide conditions under which Kantians are located in clusters or are far apart. When Kantian and isolated-selfish efforts are close, the principal's optimal allocation also maximizes agent welfare. We discuss difficulties surrounding the notion of Kantian imperatives on non-regular graphs and solve the principal's problem on graphs where roles are entirely based on degree. Our results show that, compared to standard public goods games over complete networks, organizations with Kantian agents suffer from both over- and under-provision of public goods when the underlying graph becomes relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-214
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Early online date8 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jun 2024

Data Availability Statement

No data was used for the research described in the article.


  • Effort-maximizing design
  • Kantian imperatives
  • Principal-agent conflict
  • Public goods networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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